Guide to tracking source diversity

Read the full story at the Open Notebook.

Tracking the diversity of sources included in media stories is one key tool in journalists’ work to make sure that their stories reflect the communities they cover, particularly with respect to including communities that have historically been underrepresented and marginalized. At its core, source diversity tracking can be quite simple; it’s the process of collecting information about sources’ race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality, disability status, or other identities. This information, when aggregated, gives newsrooms or individual journalists a fuller picture of who they are including in their stories.

The prospect of beginning to track demographic information about one’s sources, whether as an individual reporter or as part of a whole-newsroom effort, can seem daunting. What aspects of diversity should you track, and what is the goal? How should you gather the information? Will sources be offended if they are asked to disclose information about their race, gender, or other aspects of their identity? Does asking for such information violate any privacy laws? How do you avoid tokenism in setting goals for source diversity?

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